Art Adventure – The Griffin

Every painting has a story. – Anawanitia

As when a Gryphon through the wilderness,
With winged course, o’er hill and moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian who by stealth
Hath from his wakeful custody purloined
His guarded gold. – Milton

This art adventure is exploring a mythical creature called the Griffin. The griffin has many different spellings of the word, but what is more interesting to note is how many cultures have a griffin with a similar stories. The griffin was shared by the Greeks, Indians, Indo-Indians, Synthians, and the Europeans. The griffin was spelled Gryphus, Gryps, and Gryphon.

It is agreed throughout that the griffin was half an eagle and half a lion with eagle wings and great talons. The description varies from there. Some indicate that the eagle was only shown on the head and the wings, where the rest of the creature is that of a lion. Some say that the feathers covered its back. Others indicate that the head had antelope horns and in those cases, it is said that people pored their drink into a griffin horn to see if their beverages were poisoned.

Most stories also agree that the griffin dwells in the mountains of Rhipaean, which is between the Hyperboreans and the one-eyed Arimaspians. The griffin guards gold that is buried in the north. The Arimaspians  rode horses to the mountain in order to steal the gold from the griffins. In later stories, they dropped the Arimaspians and state only that the horses are the enemies of the griffin.

I am still in the middle of researching this story, so follow along as this story develops into a painting!